Peer Tutoring in Sciences and Mathematics

Sriyani Jayaweera, Programme Manager

INTO Newcastle University

What did you do?

A collaborative project led by high achieving students to guide and support learners who are borderline or at risk of failing their programme of study.

Graduate Framework

This approach develops the following attributes:

  • Confident
  • Collaborative

Staff can find out more about the Graduate Framework on the University intranet.

Who is involved?

Dr Sriyani Jayaweera, INTO Newcastle University

International Foundation year students in Science & Engineering

How did you do it?

There are around 175 students in two intakes in September and January entry points, from around the world.

The minimum English language requirement to enter the programme is 5.5 overall score in IELTS (or equivalent) with no less than 4.5 in any of the sub-skills. All students are streamed in their English for Academic Purposes classes according to their level of language skills. However, all academic subjects are taught in mixed-ability teaching groups where some students are with very high levels of Mathematics, not necessarily with good level of English whereas some other students are weak in Mathematics but very competent English speakers. The lectures, seminars and practical sessions are equipped with differentiated tasks, activities and outcomes to cater for mixed-ability teaching. There are timetabled study clinics offered by teachers to provide small group or 1:1 teaching for additional support in all subjects.

In addition to classroom teaching by teachers, students were allocated time slots in their timetables to engage in teaching other students who may have been struggling in understanding difficult scientific and mathematical concepts. The peer tutors voluntarily joined in to pilot this study and both tutees and tutors benefited equally.

The peer tutors were responsible for advertising their sessions in the Centre as well as in student accommodation buildings. There was a choice of male and female peer tutors from different countries. These sessions became very popular amongst many students and in turn achievement of weaker or borderline students improved tremendously. Some peer tutors are aspiring to be teachers or lecturers in their specialised field when they return to their home country and they found the initial experience extremely valuable.

Why did you do it?

Increasingly in recent years, there are a number of gifted and talented students in Science & Engineering recruited to INTO Newcastle University from all around the world with exceptionally high levels of mathematical skills. The origin of peer tutoring is from this group of high achieving students to utilise their skills to help others as well as stretching their own academic skills and improving their communication skills.

Student Voice 

“I would like to personally thank you for this wonderful opportunity given to me. I suppose this will not only benefit those who are in need of assistance, but also it will help me gain more knowledge and experience in both the subject itself and socialising with other students. Learning is not only about getting to know my subject well, but also sharing what I have to others.”

Feedback from students

Does it work?

• Significant increase in achievement rate in STEM subjects
• Enriched personal statements in UCAS application process
• Students taking more responsibility for their own learning
• Integration amongst different cultures

Contact details

Dr Sriyani Jayaweera, Project Manager, INTO

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